A cautionary tale aka: of Picolo, cake and dodos

First off, this is a rant and a very long and personal rant. I’m sorry to my new readers. But it might mean I start posting more regularly 🙂. That said

I am a woman with a personal history of faith in God dating back to my early teens and a background in the Christian Church from birth. I went through a brief but intense period where I was a bit more literal than I am now in my interpretation of the Bible and its teachings. I have had various periods of doubt and wilderness walking, more around the Church than God, though,  as the common denominator between the Church and me, and the all great “omni-everything” God has been given due responsibility and we have had many emotional “rounds in the ring”. I’ve been through rounds in the ring a range of things including over my disability and whether God would have me walking with two good arms this side of whatever the next life is. Our hard-fought for conclusion on that issue ended up being that God would give me strength to endure and; in the words of a hymn; “”Do every day, what I have to do”. I’m intentionally not evangelistic, believing each person has to find a path (plus the evangelists tend to scare me; see below.)

I’m fairly private about my faith. believing  as role models have before me in Mathew 6:1. In addition, my faith and theology have both been a bit unconventional and certainly well wrestled with so tougher (maybe) to encapsulate

As would seem logical, my disability has featured in my deliberations about faith, though it is far from the only factor that has impacted on my faith. However strangers who are Christians, have, at various points in my life, worn their religious convictions on their sleeves and sought to pray, loudly and uninvited that by their prayers (because mine are never enough?) the devil would leave my body, my “excess sin” would be removed and I would, in the middle of — insert main street here, get up and do cartwheels. Un ramped/uneven  Churches in my past have had mixed reactions when being asked about a ramp. They have either told me they don’t need access because they will pray for me and therefore I will just amble in, or they have built one, like a human rights issue!

With all this as long-winded background I invite the brave amongst you dear readers to review the following online discussion held today, two weeks after I had a batch of three such public healing “moments” in the space of 7 days. I’m reporting the first and “worst” of these to NNNNN and reproducing with minor edits and their permission here.

Me:You at your computer?

NNNNN: Yes

Me:Ok. How about I tell you the worst of the three healing events? I’ll tell you line by line to keep the flow going and will let you know when done.

NNNNN:Shoot!

Me:🙂 Head or lung or back?

NNNNN:Any.

Me:Ok, remember last time I was there and got ready for a function….?

NNNNN:Yes.

Me:As it turned out the function was a lot of fuss over nothing and only went for an hour …

So I rolled up to town hall from circular quay…

NNNNN:Yup.

Me:And decided to sit at jet cafe outside by myself have a silent fume at the event and a coffee…

NNNNN:I remember Jet Cafe.

Me:I had my headphones in and was half way through my coffee when a woman (50 year old professional traveling solo) sat facing me at the next table

We smiled at each other a couple of times

Small talk as she ate ensued.

NNNNN:Then?

Me:Jobs

Traveling

Married/not married

Coffee and shopping in Melbourne

Disability access Sydney versus Melbourne

Etc

I happened to say “goodness knows” to something she said Jesus would know

NNNNN: mmmmmh

Me:My first red flag. We agreed we were both Christians and I explained that my faith helps me cope

She asked me how I came to a relationship with Jesus

I gave her my spiel

I asked her her story – safer to get her off the subject of me and keep her talking of her

She was born again at 24

Jesus had told her she was going to marry a pastor and pointed him out to her personally.

She has brought many people to Jesus including whilst being hospitalised in Europe with a dvt by Jesus just to bring the woman in the next bed to Jesus.

Me:All this time I keep saying god gives me the strength to live with the CP

NNNNN:Yes?

Me:She goes inside to ( I thought) pay but instead orders a round for us of coffee and cake

I had prepaid my first coffee

She sits opposite me

The waiters remove the other outside tables (packing up)

We eat the cake

She talks about Jesus and how many times she has seen great healings

You have never seen me eat cake so fast but my upbringing said I couldn’t leave though I made noises and moves to do so

NNNNN: Ahhhahh!

Me:She asks if she can pray for me

NNNNN:Ouch!

Me:I say thank you that’s kind and if she wants to add me to her private prayer list I would be humbled but I don’t believe in public prayer nor in the laying on of hands

NNNNN:Yes?

Me:I quote Matthew 6 ” do in secret” at her

NNNNN:Yes?

Me:No good

She wants to cast the devil out of me and restore my body and my faith.

Jesus is telling her to do it and do it now

NNNNN:Ouch!

Youch!

Me:So she bounds out of her seat stands next to me with her feet positioned so if I was to reverse I would’ve hurt her- though I don’t think that was her thinking.

So there are no other tables nearby now and I couldn’t go back or forward

NNNNN:You are trapped.

Me:And she had one hand on my “evil chair” and one on the front of my head

I ask her three times again not to

NNNNN:

And she’s not listening.

Me:I say it is unwelcome and cruel

She says its the devil resisting

I quote scripture.

She says the devil quoted scripture when Jesus was tempted. She was right of course he did.

So I decide to let her get on with it and not make a scene

Well…

NNNNN:Yes?

Me:She goes on and on and on for 25 minutes

NNNNN:Ow!

Me:Casting the devil out of my body

My head

Heart

Slapping me lightly on the back of the head

Telling god that I am scum in his sight because if I was forgiven I’d walk away from the cafe

You name it …. I got it …

NNNNN:🙁

Me:It went on and on and on

The worst version I have ever got.

Seriously.

NNNNN:I see.

Me:Meanwhile. My prayer was something like. God if you want to have me walking and with a normal arm I would be grateful but if not if you’re there please move this woman’s heart away from doing this.

NNNNN:At least just to move this woman away.

Me:God didn’t do either.

She finished her prayer. She believed god would work the miracle as she slept. Or I was a devil sent to test her. It was one or the other.

Left me her business card and walked away

NNNNN:Whew!

Me:And I was left shaking but not walking

NNNNN:Shaking indeed.

Me:God let us both down that night. It started to happen two other times that week. There was no sanctuary. I’m over it. I’m over being the means by which other people get to feel better and get their heavenly brownie points.

Scared you off?

NNNNN:No. Just taking it all in.

I’m just sorry you have had to endure these unpleasant experiences.

Me:I think my faith is officially gone the way of the dodo. It happens too often and I don’t see a lot of the God I believe/d in in practise.

NNNNN:God will not intervene?

Me:I don’t expect an interventionist god. I want a sense he can and will protect me and work on people’s hearts.

NNNNN:God doesn’t act in the same way that woman wants to.

Me:What I’m left with is either he’s passive or he doesn’t give a s@@t about me.

NNNNN:An uncaring God? Could be that there are too many who don’t let God care through them? Could there not be a few, though, who do?

Me:I don’t know. Honestly. But right now I need to go to a meeting.

Love

Joanna

NNNNN:OK. Thanks for sharing the story.  May my hugs go with you. Love. NNNNN

To a selection of my Christian friends after my third such moment I sent:

Why do all the religious cocoos come out at once and try me for size? Just got caught briefly by another one. My third in a week or so. Over feeling like I’m up for everybody else to earn their brownie points just because I sit. ;-(“

The silence from some of those friends, some of whom I’ve known for over 20 years and through other really black holes was deafening. One such trusted friend quipped later (admittedly without the above event background, but with I thought a good knowledge of the value I placed on my faith) that my doubts were because the Pope had resigned.

Although I get that these stupid healing actions are the actions of some fallible Christians, not God (and I’ve had other good Christians, like NNNNN who are also fallible members of the broader Church try and help me process this since), I do blame God for this one. For not protecting me . For making me go through this largely alone. AGAIN . For not shutting these people up. For not sending a stone tablet down as an appendix to the Bible telling folks that physical illness and disability are not evil. (There would be other stone tablets of course).

I can’t shake this one. It has been devastating. Usually my admission of faith and my explaining that Jesus helps me cope are enough to prevent these full-blown attacks, not this time.

It leaves me exhausted and lonely (my non Christian friends don’t get the grief either, almost “what took you so long”), sad and feeling like I will always be suspicious of people that say they love Jesus, whether I ever believe again or not. I fear I’ve wasted 23 years of life in the boxing ring of my faith and while I know that there have been bigger things that God’s done well (apparently), my relationship with God through faith in the Christ has been my link into the mystery of it all..

I just don’t know where to go with it now, but thanks for listening

 

 

 

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